There are many major milestones so many parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers like to discuss and share: sleeping through the night, rolling over, first steps, first words … and moving beyond diapers.
Well, if you’ve been following us for a while, you might know that my family has been struggling with potty training. Our 4-year-old son has been diaper and accident free 24/7 for nearly six months. Except when he poops. Then he requests a diaper for his bowel movement. I have been very relaxed about potty training because it’s my philosophy that my son will use the toilet when he is good and ready to do it. So why push him?
Unfortunately, my wife’s philosophy is different. She thinks our son should have been potty trained a year ago. Well, our differences of opinion came to the ultimate test this past week.
I agreed to go along with her for the first few days, but then I reneged (see day #5 below). To rehash: We did the diaper countdown leading up until our son’s fourth birthday. Each day, we’d watch the small stack of diapers in the pile dwindle and say how many days left til pooping on the potty and his reward – a lollipop! (He’s always wanted one, never had one, and so it was promised as the reward).
So here’s the situation: our diaper stash was depleted Monday night, our son just turned 4, and he went the first two days (Tuesday & Wednesday) without pooping. At this point, I was getting antsy because our son who normally has a bowel movement everyday was holding it in. Stubborn little guy. I posted the scenario on our blog and Facebook to solicit advice: some said that he will give in at some point and stick to your guns while others said, if he asks for his diaper to make a poop, you give it to him.
Thursday, Day #3 & Friday Day #4: Still no poop. At least our son wanted to make poop on the potty because we spent ample time each day sitting on the toilet together, singing songs, and reading books. Our son was quite curious why nothing was coming out. So were his parents! I was getting nervous — when does holding in a poop become an unhealthy medical issue.
Saturday, Day #5: NO POOP! He mentioned before bed that he was feeling full and wanted to understand why We spent even more time in the bathroom that day, fed our son a ton of fruit, and still no success. After our son went to sleep that night, the “gloves were off.” I was angry at my wife for making us all go through this method of potty training (immature upon reflection, but I was at my wits end). A terrible argument ensued. Nasty words were exchanged. After a while, the two of us looked at each other and wondered, is a “potty training” argument worth putting this strain on our relationship? No, it’s not, we concluded! So, I took a walk to get some air and gather my thoughts. We agreed to call our pediatrician and solicit their advice as were both genuinely concerned about our son’s health after holding in his BM for five days — what willpower! The pediatrician suggested a wonderful solution. She said to give our son a choice in the morning:
- Option 1: He wants to poop on the potty and will try taking something the doctor recommended (who he adores) to help him along with the process — MiraLax, a stool softener
- Option 2: He can have the diaper if he wants one to poop, but will have to do everything by himself – take it diaper off, put poop in the toilet, and wipe.
Sunday, Day #6: Our son decided to drink a glass of water with the MiraLax. Our family went to the beach for the day and I brought our portable toilet seat (just in case). After lunch, we were jumping waves in the ocean, when our son announced, “I feel something, I have to make a poop.” We literally ran to the public bathrooms with potty seat in hand, whipped my son’s wet bathing suit off, and after some wriggling on the seat and some grunting — a minor miracle happened. My son shouted, “Dad, come here quick. I did it! It’s a big one! Now do I get my lollipop?” Me: “You better believe it! Let’s go tell mom the good news.”
My wife’s face was lit up with such pride when he ran over to her. My wife and I celebrated together and whispered about how foolish we were for arguing about this. YES! Our son finally took a poop on the potty.
Epilogue: He’s been pooping on the potty all week long with much success and two very proud parents. Have you struggled with potty training? What might have you done differently?